BATON ROUGE, La. - Ole Miss sophomore Blake Morris shot a 1-over par 73 in the third and final round of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional on Saturday, but finished two shots behind individual champion Jonathan Grey of Georgia State.
The Waterbury, Conn., native entered the day tied with Grey for the 36 hole lead at 3-over, but double-bogeyed the par-4 No. 10 to fall two shots back to start the third round. Morris also bogeyed the par-5 11th and par-3 13th sandwiched around a birdie at the par-4 12th, and closed out the back nine with two more bogeys at No. 17 and No. 18.
The sophomore then caught fire on the front nine carding three-straight birdies at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 to move back into contention. Back-to-back pars at No. 4 and No. 5 were followed by a birdie at the par-5 No. 6 that moved Morris to 1-over just two shots behind Grey. That was all the ground Morris could make up though, as he posted three-straight pars on the final three holes to finish 1-over for the regional.
"Blake played an awesome back nine at 4-under par," said Ole Miss head coach Ernest Ross. "In my opinion, I thought he started a little tight, and put too much pressure on himself. After shooting 5-over on his first nine, he thought it was all over. He mentally decided to `just play.' He loosened up and birdied the next three. He missed going to NCAA Championships by two shots; he got it close. I am really proud of his spirit and I know he learned some valuable lessons today and this week."
The top five teams from each regional and one individual not on those teams advanced to the NCAA Championships, which will take place May 28-June 2 at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga. SEC champion Alabama captured the regional crown, while fellow SEC power Florida finished second. LSU, Tennessee and Coastal Carolina rounded out the top five.
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